In what's sure to be a controversial finding, a new study by BJK&E Media has concluded that there is no evidence "that traditional media consumption rates have been significantly impacted by Internet use."
Users of online services and the Internet may watch less TV in total than non-users, but it's likely they viewed less TV even before they became cyber-friendly, reported the study, titled "Internet Users & Their Use of Traditional Media."
Furthermore, while Internet users are light TV watchers during daytime, when their prime-time and late-night TV habits are compared to those of non-Internet users in the same demographic group, the Internet users actually watch more TV in those time periods.
EARLIER DATA RE-EXAMINED
"There have been studies before that have said those using the Internet are watching less TV overall," said John McSherry, senior partner-director of media research for BJK&E Media, New York. "But what's been lacking is what insight this information gives us."
By analyzing data from Simmons Market Research Bureau and Mediamark Research Inc., Mr. McSherry found that it's really a lifestyle issue. "It appears that the sky is not falling," for traditional media, he said, adding, "Internet users are more active and just don't spend as much time at home."
Besides increased prime-time and late-night TV viewing, Internet users read significantly more magazines and newspapers than the like group of non-Internet users, and listen to more radio, the study said.
The growing consensus is "that usage on the Internet among client prospect groups is really taking away significant amounts of time from other media, and there has to be some seriously increased spending on the Web in order to capture these prospects," said Michael Drexler, president of BJK&E Media. Eventually advertisers need to increase Web ad spending, although no significant money needs to be shifted now, he said.
"Watch Web usage and see how it develops," Mr. Drexler said.
NET USERS YOUNG, EDUCATED
Using data from MRI and Simmons, BJK&E Media examined cyber-users and non-users for 30 days. The 1996 study was conducted on a rolling basis over the course of a year, and used traditional methods to poll a total of 20,000 respondents.
The data showed that the key factors differentiating Internet users from adults in general is that the Internet users tend to be younger, have more years of education, and a higher household income. BJK&E then developed a demographically matched group which hadn't used the Internet in the last 30 days, and compared the two groups.
Mr. McSherry has recommended to Simmons and MRI that they replicate BJK&E's analysis. He also advised them to make available to all their subscribers a demographically matched respondent group of Internet and non-Internet users to see how their media habits evolve.
Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.